A Tale of Two Women
Facing Dementia and Physical Decline Differently.
My mother ultimately refused physical therapy. Not just one day or two, but every time the therapist came into her room.
Her care facility was costing us thousands of dollars each month out of pocket. Even though my father had earlier suffered and passed away from Alzheimer’s, my Mom with optimism denied that anything could ever happen to her, so she had no plan for this outcome.
My Mom’s dementia had lead to depression which led to her unwillingness to try to keep going. She had been a vibrant woman, but the physical challenges along with the cognitive decline in the end were too much for her. She was bedridden the last two years of her life. She seemed happy to just watch TV.
As I shared in an earlier post, recognizing that my job was to love her, not force her, freed me to enjoy her and our time together. But that didn’t mean that I understood her behavior or that I didn’t get annoyed from time to time.
My mother’s roommate was ten years older than she. While her mind was intact, her body was failing at 95, and yet every day she got out of bed, got dressed, and walked around the facility, all with the staff’s good help. She told me once on her way out the door that if she didn’t keep walking, she couldn’t live another ten years. Ten years! I admired her spirit and wondered at the difference between these two women.
My mother’s dear roommate did not live ten more years; she passed away before my mother. But I will always remember the strength of that spirit which drove her on in spite of the struggle and pain.
I learned in those days how different each of us is. We face life and death in distinct ways. And caring for our loved ones means accepting their choices even if we hope one day they wouldn’t be ours.